From Long Island Newsday:
It’s been known for years that the closure of the massive Brookhaven landfill will create a solid waste crisis on Long Island. Where is all that garbage going to go? But as the clock has ticked toward the anticipated shuttering in 2024, there’s been more talk than action — and, some critics would say, even not enough talk.
2. That’s changing now in a major way, and a fascinating process is about to unfold.
Winters Bros., one of the region’s major solid-waste management companies, is proposing to build a rail terminal and industrial park on 228 acres in Yaphank, just north of the landfill, to take garbage off the Island by rail. The company, which says it plans to spend more than $100 million on the project, would build a spur line north to connect to the Long Island Rail Road’s Main Line.
3. Winters Bros. and its Class 3 railroad affiliate, Brookhaven Rail LLC, have gone before the federal Surface Transportation Board, which regulates railroads, seeking an exemption from local zoning, a standard request. The Town of Brookhaven initially supported that request, then changed its mind and told the STB that Winters Bros. should go before the town to seek approval for the facility, which would not be allowed by current town code.
Environmentalists, meanwhile, are weighing the relative pros and cons of the project – for example, the loss of trees on part of the 228 acres vs. saving tens of thousands of truck trips on Long Island roads. A competing proposal to haul off the garbage by rail, also by connecting to the Main Line, this one from Gershow Recycling in Medford, also is moving forward. And Brookhaven Town is exploring opening a new facility just east of the current landfill to keep handling some or all of the 350,000 tons of ash it accepts annually from waste-to-energy plants in the region.
Environmental reviews await. Litigation certainly is possible. Which solution will prevail? Or is a mix of ideas the best approach?
The only certainty is that the clock keeps ticking.